Run Baby Run
I'm Maureen. I wrote this story, basically it's about Chamber's life before he joined the Academy, while it doesn't have (mush) adult language it does deal with some VERY adult themes, so I've given it a raing of PG13. If you are under 13 or are easily offended then I recommend that you not read this. And my ever constant message FEED THE WRITER!!! GIVE ME FEEDBACK!!
*Yer a ruddy wanker, Starsmore,*he thought, bitterly, sitting alone in the airport lounge.
Staring down at a full glass of water his mind rifled through his memories, some good, a few fun, but most just plain awful. Jonothon Starsmore's mind wandered some more. His mind stopped, touching a memory, one that could be classified under no category except awful. A memory from his freshman year of high school.
He was arguing with his parents again. This time it was because he had started to date Gayle Edgerton, and with dating her, he also had joined the Brittons, a high school band with a less-than-perfect reputation. He had also started dressing like them: black jeans, a black leather jacket and black boots.
But why is this memory different from another?* Jonothon wondered, then the rest of the memory unfolded. His father taking off his belt and whipping him all down his back for the first time. Jonothon hadn't cried or asked it to stop. He simply gritted his teeth and remained silent, he wouldn't give his father the enjoyment of seeing emotion.
But if you went upstairs that fateful night you would have heard Jono's shower running for an unusually long time. To mask the sobs wracking his body. That night was the first in a long and torturous journey into self-discovery and a ticket into his own personal hell. To which he had trouble finding the door out of.
I stayed with Gayle and the Brittons until the end of my sophomore year. I wrote most of their songs and was their best guitarist and singer. It didn't matter how good I was though, the only reason I was with them was because I dated Gayle, and if I stopped then I was out. It didn't matter 'ow good I was. I didn't love Gayle, I didn't even like her, but at the time I thought that the Brittons were the most important thing and that it was worth going out with her for. I learned too late that I was wrong about everything.
And almost every night I was whipped, and every night I cried regardless.
I was alone in a crowd. My life was expected to be perfect, I had money, got to hang with a popular clique, and good grades.. In reality it was a living hell. I couldn't talk about my problems to the people in the band, they wouldn't listen or care. I couldn't talk to Gayle, 'er notion was that sex solved everything. It didn't.
Every Friday night we played at Karl's Pub. It didn't matter that we were underage, we still played. Sometimes a fight would erupt and I'd be caught in the thick of it. It really didn't matter. Of course the fights gave me father yet another reason to punish me. Through all this I maintained a straight A average with a 4.0 GPA. For two years my life was a never ending cycle: schools, band, Gayle, beatings, homework, sleep, repeat. It was an extremely rare moment when I 'ad time to meself. Time to reflect.
Just when I thought me life couldn't get any worse, it did. It was a Friday afternoon, we were about to go to Karl's and set-up for later. But for now we were just hangin' and jammin', the band, and I and the gels in Thom's garage. Thom's garage wasn't built to well and the roof 'ad been cracking for as long as I'd known 'im. That day it fell and my life changed forever. I remember seeing the ceiling fall and wanting to do something, anything to help. Pieces of ceiling hit Gayle, then there was an intense heat and the falling ceiling bits were disintegrated. I remember some of the guys burned and 'earing the sirens of the constabulary.
I remember everybody still conscience looking at me with fear. I went to move my mouth, to the them I was all right, but it wouldn't move. I couldn't feel my lower face or chest. For a moment I though that I was dead. But no, I could still feel my arms and legs, I could still think.
My parents showed up, I don't know 'ow or why, and took me home. The paramedics that 'ad arrived said that 'd probably live so just go. I think that they didn't know what to think. Heck, I didn't know what to think. Entering hell. That was my life. My father beat me once, sometimes twice a day. I had no mouth, therefore, I didn't eat. I had no mouth, therefore, I couldn't speak. I also couldn't use the telephone, apparently telepathy wouldn't work over phone lines (telepathy was the way I 'ad been forced to communicate), and all my letters (like I 'ad so many people to write to) were burned. I had only three consolations, and not very good ones. The computer, my guitar, and the TV.
The only downfall with the computer, was that my e-mail wouldn't go through and anything I did on the Internet was monitored. I could still play me guitar, simply not sing. Not being able to sing was one of the worst things I could imagine.
All my sophomore year I suffered. No friends, no family (my brothers weren't allowed to talk to me), no nothing. I tried to leave, tried to do something to leave, nothing I tried worked. I was stuck with these bloody plonkers. My father whipped me at night and all the next day I suffered the pain. I couldn't stop it and at the time it was the only constant in my life. If it had stopped what would I have done? I couldn't take an Advil or Tylenol, and I couldn't stay home from school. What choice did I have? I suffered. Then came my junior year. I dreaded it. I showed up the first day of school literally counting the days till my 18th birthday. But, apparently my guardian angel had decided that I'd suffered enough.
Part II: Rita Henderson
I looked over my roster before school started anxious to know what to expect from my students. It was my first year teaching and to say that I was nervous was a bit of an understatement. I was given the usual "John does this", "Susie does that", until I reached Starsmore, Jonothon E. Everyone I talked to said the same thing, "Jono is bad news", "Steer clear of Starsmore", "Just leave him alone, he's trouble". What was so bad about this one student? He was in all advanced and honors classes, so he should be relatively well behaved.
I had graduated from Cromwell High six years ago. We had had the Brittons then and Jonothon was dressed like one. Black leather boots and jacket, black jeans and a grungy T-shirt. His longish brown hair was cut into a Beatles style. Even though half of his face was covered in black bandages, I could tell that he wasn't a member of the Brittons. Former member perhaps, but certainly not a current one.
I knew that he wasn't trouble when he walked in the door. He walked in silent and alone. He took a seat in the far back corner and only the last few people that came straggling the door sat by him, all with looks of disgust. No one talked with him.
As he sat down I could tell that he was in pain. Regardless of what the other teachers had said I knew almost immediately that he wasn't trouble. That he was in pain. With those thoughts I decided to see if I could help.
That night I drove to his house. Actually, mansion, is better word. Using the 'old' "I need to speak to your son about passing", I was let up to his room. I wasn't sure hat to expect when I got there, probably an immaculately kept room, like the rest of the house.
What I got was slightly different. Unmade bed, computer, TV and Nintendo with about a zillion games. I think that I saw a desk under a mountain of textbooks and binders. Sociology, Algebra II, Biology II, books on ESP, binders full of newspaper and magazine clippings all about mutants, all from the past two years. Usually more than one book for each subject.
And no Jonothon. However the shower was running.
"Hello? Jonothon? Are you here?" the shower stopped.
*Hold on.* A voice muffled by the door called.
A moment later Jono emerged from the bathroom slipping on his trademark leather jacket. Curiously though, he wasn't wet.
*Can I help you?*
This was the most I've ever heard him speak. The most anyone had ever heard him speak at one time.
"Jono then. I'll get straight to the point. What is going on? Something isn't right."
With that he told me everything. The beatings, how he had dated Gayle Edgerton, in return for membership to the Brittons, and that he was a mutant. My heart went out to him. I couldn't not do something to help him. I arranged for him to become my after school aide for two hours. I actually wasn't as hard to do as I had initially though. Of course it helped that I really did need an aide.
The next day Jono came to class walking funny and his face, what I could see, was a mask of pain. I quickly wrote a note and dropped it on his desk.
'Stay after class.'
He nodded and then tore it up.
"Jono. Jono wake up." He opened his eyes slowly, almost as if even that hurt to do. "You're coming with me." I had to help him up and also to walk to my car. He dozed as I drove to my tiny apartment. Again I had to help him up the stairs. He was almost unconscience. Not because of lack of sleep, although that might contribute to it, but because of pain.
I laid him on the couch and went into the bathroom to find the first-aid kit. Last night he had shown me the blazing inferno of psionic fire in place of his lower jaw and chest. I briefly wondered what good I would be able to do with a simple kit?
I came back and found him asleep, and for the second time today I woke Jono up. "Jono. Sit up and remove your bandages." He complied silently. I believe that the pain was almost too much for him. I never could have imagined what I saw on his back. Last night it had simply seen red marks, as if he had been slapped hard. This, this was horrible, red and white welts cris-crossing his back, shoulders, and thighs. The first-aid kit was useful after all. I treated them as gently as I could, unfortunately not gently enough. He stiffened every time I touched him. "Jono, stay here. Sleep. I'll come back after school," with that I left and I'm sure that Jono was already asleep.
When I got home later I found Jono awake and watching TV *Your boyfriend… called* as usual his speaking was labored, like he was out of breath.
"Why didn't you take a message?"
*Phones and telepathy don't work well together. 'Sides your machine took the message for me.*
"I take it then that you're feeling better?"
*A little. Gorra bloody monstrous headache.*
"I got your homework."
*Thanks, I think. I can stay here until 4:30 right?*
"Yeah. Feel like grading papers?"
*Sure, why not.*
And that was the beginning of our friendship. He was beaten badly about once every two to three weeks. It became almost a ritual on those days to doctor him up and get his work. His parents, the principal, nobody knew about our friendship or if they did, they didn't do a thing.
After a few weeks I started noticing the little things about him, they disturbed me more sometimes than the bruises. It was difficult to tell with his jacket on, but once he loosened up enough to take it off in casual company. I noticed the fact that his shirts were threadbare, some had holes. His family was rich, why didn't they get him new clothes? Then I realized, they don't care, he has no was to go anywhere or to get money for himself.
"Jono, instead of grading papers we're going to go somewhere."
"The mall. You need clothes. Come on get your things," Jono hesitated, unsure whether to protest or to come. He protested, but not very convincingly.
*Strewth! I haven't been to a mall in over a year! Besides everyone's gorra stare at me.*
"Too. Bad. You need shirts, winter is almost here, don't tell me you're not cold!"
"Yes, with warmer shirts. Let's go!"
Shaking his head slightly he followed me to the car. All during the drive he was silent, which wasn't unusual, I don't think that he talked much before his accident. He had told me once that talking had now become a chore. I kept trying to figure out what he was thinking when he spoke up.
*Do you go to the mall a lot?*
"Only when I need something. Why?"
*Just wondering, gel. I never went to the mall much a lot either.*
Jono was right about people staring!! It was so cruel! The first store we went into tried to have us thrown out. Operative word here 'tried'. Legally they couldn't do a thing. Store after store we went, not really shopping anymore, rather, we were sight seeing. After our time was up, Jono had gotten several T-shirts and two new CD's that he was 'dying' to get. He seemed more at ease with himself, or perhaps at peace, as I drove him home. I was proud of him, but more importantly he was proud of himself for the first time in how long?
By now I had known him for about two months and the last hurdle to jump was how to get Jono out of that house permanently. The main problem was that he couldn't legally move out and the justice system in London didn't care about mutants at all. Jono was going to have to run away and leave the country to escape his father. Now, I'm not trying to make you believe that everything was was fine over night. There were many times he cried on my shoulder, or got into a fight at school. Once he even got into a fight with that plonker of an ex-boyfriend, right after we broke up! That was one argument I'll never forget! Jono didn't trust me, but once he did, then our friendship blossomed.
Using my computer to access the Internet he found the webpage for Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, and with a little prying, found out that it was a school for mutants. Homo superior. People like Jono. It was in America and he applied as soon as he was able. Within the week the plane ticket came. I honestly think that when the ticket arrived was the one time he was genuinely happy. All the next week he brought things to school, clothes, video games, CD's, important things that I was to put away to be packed. Then of Thursday my part of our plan started. To get Jono away for the weekend without arousing suspicion. Ring, ring.
"Hello?" a bored man answered the phone, Mr. Starsmore.
"Hello. This is Ms. Henderson. I'm Jonothon's English teacher?"
"What has he done now?"
"Oh, nothing. He's my after school aide and I'd like to know if he's free this weekend to apartment sit for me," how could anyone believe this inane garbage? The answer I found out: Jono's father.
"Where will you be Ms. Henderson?"
"Aberstwyth. My sister is sick."
"All right. But he needs to be back promptly at 4:30 on Monday."
"Yessir, goodbye," there that was over. How had this man become a successful banking executive?
Jonothon had an overnight bag with him Friday, the last of his things. Instead of simply putting the bag away in the cupboard, I loaded both Jono and the bag into my car. Jono laughed weakly *He had to make up for my not being around this weekend.*
I didn't respond. How could I? A mans son is leaving him forever and he then goes and beats him until he can barely stand? This was the worst one I had ever seen.
On Saturday morning his plane left.
Ms. Henderson drove me to the airport and waited with me for a time. She didn't say anything for which I am thankful. I don't know how to repay her. I suppose my sense of honour will make me one day, but how do you repay a gel who helped you to live? Who gave you love, cared for you when everyone else condemned you for a monster, a freak? If I was a monster then why had I felt so much pain?
I honestly think that if she hadn't come when she did, I probably would have tried to kill meself. Rita Henderson is for all intents and purposes my guardian angel. I shall be forever in 'er debt.
"Flight 406 from London Heathrow to Boston's Logan airport is now boarding."
I silently got up and gave the flight attendant, a gorgeous red head, his ticket. As the plane taxied down the runway I thought to meself *Goodbye, London. I hope you're 'appy.*